Permit issues addressed

A crucial change to the Immigration Law was recently passed in the Legislative Assembly to further assist persons seeking work in the Cayman Islands, says a GIS press release.

The Immigration (Amendment Bill) 2005 addresses those seeking work as well as holders of temporary work permits.

The amendment now allows temporary work permit holders to work during the transitional period between a temporary and one-year permit. This new provision applies to persons who will be working under the same terms and conditions as the original temporary permit and whose employer has applied for the annual work permit during the currency of the temporary permit.

The benefits to both the employer and employee are that work can continue uninterrupted and the extra step of applying for an extension to remain in the Islands is removed, the release said.

Another aspect of the new amendment deals with persons who enter the Cayman Islands as visitors but use their time to seek employment. Should such a person prove successful in finding an employer, he/she will no longer be able to remain on island while a permit is being processed. Such visitors are now required to be off island during the processing procedure.

‘Under the new law, both the Chief Immigration Officer and the Boards are prohibited from considering work permits made by visitors who are on Island, unless there are special circumstances,’ said Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson.

‘This amendment addresses public concerns about persons ‘hanging around’ the Islands with nothing to do, but at the same time does not affect genuine tourists,’ said Mr. Manderson.

‘Overall, the amendment will mean less congestion at the department and it will reduce the number of bogus work permit applications, giving us more time to concentrate on legitimate ones.’

In the months following Hurricane Ivan, many people were required to enter the Islands to assist in the recovery process. The Immigration Department supported the recovery effort by facilitating employers to recruit a large number of temporary workers.

As their permits came to an end, long lines and even longer wait times were experienced as persons sought to keep these employees working.

However, the Immigration Law, 2003 prohibited employees from working between a temporary work permit and an annual work permit. Therefore in order to maintain the recovery process the Chief Immigration Officer was required to issue new temporary work permits to employers. This created a tremendous workload for immigration staff.

The amendment to the Immigration Law is accordingly regarded as crucial. ‘It benefits all of us who are involved in the work permit process,’ said Mr. Manderson. ‘Now, there is some leeway for temporary workers which will translate in a reduction in the workload of the Immigration Department.’